Stories, Fundraising & Life’s Greatest Question

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

A few years ago, the Yankelovich Partners conducted a national poll that asked, "If you could get a direct and immediate answer from God concerning any issue, what would it be?" Can you guess it? If you were granted the opportunity to come face-to-face with God and could find out the answer to anything, what would it be?

It appears there is one question that more of us would ask than any other question. The question most adults would like to ask God is: What's my purpose here?

From the beginning of our history, humankind has been grappling with the age-old questions:

Why am I here? What is the reason for my existence? What is the meaning of my life? Is there a reason for my presence in the universe?

These questions are universal. They lurk deep within the secret chambers of every human being on earth regardless of their race, color, ethnic heritage, socioeconomic status, or nationality.

In a speech, Martin Luther King posited that "Life's most persistent and urgent question [is] 'What are you doing for others?'"

Challenged by MLK's speech, Tom Rath wrote a book titled Life's Great Question. He was frustrated by the multitudes who mistakenly made self-satisfaction their focus.

Harry T. Jones teaches business leaders that:

"Purpose involves having a passion for impact beyond yourself. Amazing inspiration and energy are released when we serve a purpose beyond ourselves. In business, profit is significant. But profit for the purpose of impacting others is fuel for a significant business and life!" (Read more here).

King, Rath, Jones, and philosophers throughout history posit that our most incredible feelings of nobility flow from what we do for others.

As nonprofit leaders, we have the unique opportunity to serve people by allowing them to answer this question: WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR OTHERS?

Fundraising gold nugget: Giving donors the opportunity to serve others with their gifts helps them answer life’s greatest question and connects them to an energized life.

Are you getting this? Isn’t that exciting? As nonprofit leaders, we have the privilege of connecting donors to the answer to their most pressing question. Can you imagine donors giving to your mission, getting energized like crazy and then thanking you for the opportunity to give? This is exciting! This is fundraising as it was meant to be!

BUT DONORS OFTEN FEEL MORE LIKE ABUSED ATM’S THAN PEOPLE WHO SERVE OTHERS. Why is that? One significant reason is that fundraisers don't understand their responsibility to connect donors with the stories about their gift's impact.

Stories connect financial gifts to changed lives. If a donor merely gives money and never gets to hear the stories of life-change their gifts engender, they feel used.

Fundraising gold nugget: Stories are the currency that fundraisers collect to pay their donors.

Telling stories of impact that connect the daily efforts of your mission to donors' gifts is a significant part of a fundraiser's job. Through stories, we connect the work we do to the benefits it brings to others.

In the book Change Your World, John Maxwell says that connecting our mission to "the benefits it brings to others leads to better results, greater satisfaction, and well-being."

In Life's Greatest Question, Tom Rath gives examples of this:

"...when a cook...can literally see the people they serve, it increases that customer's satisfaction with the meal by 10%."

"If the cook and customer can both see one another, satisfaction with meal quality goes up 17% and service is 13% faster.”

Through well crafted stories, we allow donors to actually “see” the impact of their gift.

Fundraising gold nugget: Stories of lives impacted by our mission inspire donors to give more and increase their satisfaction and well-being.

Donors experience a far greater sense of belonging and dedication to your mission when you connect their gifts with stories of impact.

Want more money? Tell better stories!!


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